The collapse of all sin/error into an undifferentiated lust has a
complex history. Even Shakespeare seems, at least for a few years around
1600, seems to have strayed in this respect, and neither Spenser nor
Miltonare free of it. The identification of Woman=Lust occurs in a great
deal of medieval literature, but not in the formal thought of the period
-- not in Aquinas, not in Dante. And it is not merely male supremacy it
expresses but, uuually, an acive misogyn. See Joan Smith, Misogynies,
and in particular the chapter where she quotes from the "poetry"
produced by the pilots of a U.S. base in England. Pound, Williams,
Yeats, Stevens are all male suremacist, but they are pretty free of
misogyny, while there do seem to be traces of it in Eliot: Fear of
woman being trnaformed into hatred of women.
The full identification of sin with lust seems to have occurred in the
later 19th century. Hugh Kenner in one of his essays refers to the
Apolitical flavor of the Idylls, in which Arthur's hopes for an ideal
state are wrecked through the sexual sins of his Queen and Lancelot. A
century and a half later we don't seem to have yet fully escaped from
that suffocating world. There is a book to write comparing and
contrasting the Idylls with those two towering achivements, Austen's
Mansfield Park and Eliot's Middlemarch. In Mansfield Park, the sexual
errors Sir Thomas's older daughter bring his _illusions_ down, as
Guinvere brings Arhtur's vision down, but Austen, unlike Tennyson, is
clear-eyed as to where the fumdamental flaw lies, in Sir Thomas's utter
failure as a father.
Dante is vigorously and continuously political in his vision. The drive
of the Papacy to exercise political power is very nearly seen as the
base and origin of all evil in his world. (That is a gross exaggeration,
but nowheres near as gross an exaggeration as making him identify sin
TWL is in many ways apolitical, which forms part of the context for the
typist episode. It is the clerk who, as the narrative presents it, is
the active agent there, but the episode ends by sneering at the typist.
Goldsmith, in The Deserted Village, is still thinking politically, but
the lyric Eliot echoes here shows the drift towards what we call
"Victorianism" in the 18th-c.